Gobble Gobble Your Way to a Healthy Thanksgiving

By Betty Murray

The season for feasting is upon us, beginning with Thanksgiving, which is just around the corner. The tradition of Thanksgiving Day is centered around a feast, and though delicious, Thanksgiving is also one day when most Americans will overeat. Is it possible to have a healthy Thanksgiving?

We’re all guilty of filling our plates with all the Thanksgiving fixings and even returning for seconds, followed by a slice of delicious pumpkin pie. The truth is, maintaining healthy eating habits is more difficult this time of year, and Thanksgiving is no different.

As you prepare for your Thanksgiving feast, here are a few tips to keep in mind to help you have a healthy Thanksgiving.

  • Eat smaller portions. This is the secret to avoiding overindulgence. On Thanksgiving Day, you will probably face a multitude of choices when it comes to food. Don’t feel pressured to try every dish. Instead, select your favorites, and dish up a fraction of the portion you might normally eat. In a typical daily meal, you might have one or two side dishes, but on Thanksgiving, you may have three or four. For a healthy Thanksgiving. portion control is key.
  • Don’t wait to eat until the big meal. For a healthy Thanksgiving, be sure to eat breakfast, and lunch, depending on the time of your Thanksgiving dinner. If you wait all day to eat, you will be so hungry that making smart food choices and controlling portion size will be more difficult. A healthy breakfast and a salad for lunch with plenty of water will help you be more full going into the big dinner. If possible, skip the munchies and appetizers and save the calories for more fulfilling foods.
  • Choose lean meats. Select a skinless piece of turkey and you’ll save yourself a number of extra calories and fat. Sure, you may be sacrificing on flavor, but your waistline will thank you later.
  • Eat your veggies. They are essential for your overall health, and they’re also key ingredients of a healthy Thanksgiving. Lots of traditional Thanksgiving side dishes include vegetables, but they’re often smothered in fattening creams and dressing. Make wise choices by selecting fresh foods and steamed vegetables over anything smothered in sauce or gravy, cheesy or fried side dishes.
  • Don’t skip exercise. Set your alarm a bit earlier Thanksgiving morning so you’ll have time to squeeze in 20-30 minutes of cardio exercise to get your blood flowing and your metabolism pumping. After the big meal, get everyone together for an outdoor game of flag football or ultimate Frisbee. Even a walk around the neighborhood is better than spending the afternoon or evening in a food coma on the couch. Allow yourself to indulge a little. Thanksgiving is just one day of the year. If you have been maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly, this one day is not going to kill your diet. Exercise and healthy food choices go hand in hand for a healthy Thanksgiving.

It’s important that you make smart food choices Thanksgiving day, but it is possible to have a healthy Thanksgiving without missing out on the enjoyment of delicious, home cooked meals. Allow yourself a small indulgence such as a small slice of pie or your grandma’s famous turkey stuffing; just don’t overdo it. You’ll enjoy the day much more if you aren’t stuffed and miserable after eating.

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